Concerns are being raised that long delays at COVID-19 assessment centres could lead to the privatization of testing.

The London Health Coalition is sounding the alarm as the province reports a record in testing backlogs. 

On Thursday the backlog hit 82,000 samples, the highest since the pandemic began.

The group worries that long wait times at publicly-run assessment centres will lead to private companies moving into the market, and those who can afford to shell out extra money will get tested while everyone else waits.

While they couldn’t provide any proven examples of this happening, Jeff Hanks, coalition co-chair, believes it’s taking place under the radar.

"In the private sector it costs more. There’s less quality. It’s poorly regulated."

And while the whole idea was to give better access to testing and take a burden off assessment centres, pharmacy testing is also a concern for the coalition.

The group sees it as a form of privatization. Co-chair Peter Bergmanis says public funding should be used to expand public capacity.

"They created the crunch of why we don’t have capacity. And yet we still know that there’s public dollars available that haven’t been spent on health care, and yet they are not pursuing the logic of why aren’t we building public capacity."

On Friday, the Ontario government announced all of the province's COVID-19 assessment centres would be moving to appointment only on Oct. 4 in an effort to ease the backlog.